Three layers of styrofoam, paper and tape protected my copy of Garden & Cosmos, a sign of careful packaging, intimating a precise approach to music. I didn’t get a sea star (missed it by just 4!) but that’s okay ~ this is a beautiful release. The yellow straw slipcase contains a yellow cassette accompanied by a lovely purple hand-printed book (oddly the same shades as the Minions of “Despicable Me 2”!). The personal packaging makes it feel like a present. All this good will is generated even before the cassette is played.
This is the first ACL appearance for Finland’s Uton (Jani Hirvonen), but we’re sure that it won’t be his last. With 34 releases on Bandcamp and 20 more waiting for label interest, there’s plenty out there and plenty to come. Like his peers in Paavoharju and Ous Mal, Hirvonen blankets his productions in a fuzzy glaze, using sounds that others might avoid, picking them up like cracked marbles from the dirt. A shopkeeper’s door opens; helicopter blades intersect the air; an orchestra tunes in a trash-filled alley. Uton’s music is thick with grime, but polishing would dull its impact: this was never meant to be glossy. The beauty is found in the gleefulness of contrast. The drones of “Vapaa Energia” battle with tapped cymbals and Indian flutes. Low-flying planes (or a lawnmower) duet with unhappy birds on “Olemuksen Anatomiaa”. Listeners who are in love with sound and the variety of sound will appreciate the depth of this release and its attention to detail.
Valérie Magisson (Sunhiilow) was first featured on our site via a split with Baldruin, and since then, she’s further solidified her sound and her standing. Magisson’s tracks tend to be shorter – the longest here is 2:48, which means there’s room to include fourteen of them. Her fascination is with pattern, and there’s no particular reason to extend these investigations once they’ve been shuttled into our universe. While Uton’s side is gritty and dark, Magisson’s is smooth and bright; there’s no mistaking who’s tending the garden and who’s staring at the cosmos. The synth sparkles of “Astral Asteroidea” establish the mood. A deep bass, like a fog horn, cuts through the night sky. “Macaws” twinkles, “Aurore Austale” pulses, “Polygone” comforts; and so the dance continues. The circulation of such tones eventually produces a Milky Way wonder. Casey Kasem’s famous sendoff was, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” Garden & Cosmos is connected in the same way; one side looks to the earth, another to the sky, yet each discovers the heart of awe. (Richard Allen)